MATCH REPORT: St Kilda vs Carlton | Round 21, AFL, 2023.
Alright let’s keep this short, because that’s what St. Kilda did at the game on Sunday night. They kept it so short in fact, they forgot to turn up for the second half.
With our season on the line, a packed Marvel Stadium in the house, and a scintillating start, we absolutely crapped the bed and choked harder than Mark Williams’ tie on grand final day. We were scared of the contest, scared to attack, scared to hit a target, woeful in defence and offence, and totally clueless.
Carlton was missing these players: Walsh, Cerra, McGovern and McKay. We were missing: pretty much no one. This was what the coach’s thought was our strongest side, a side so strong that Membery and Billings didn’t make the final cut, and boy oh boy wowee did it bring to light how glaringly bad we are in so many departments.
In the final quarter with the game on the line, our captain had zero touches. He finished on eleven. Brad Crouch had zero touches too. Max King had zero touches. Hunter Clark had one touch, Owens had two. In the second term when we were twenty-two points up, Gresham was running into an open goal and Higgins handballed it so far over his head it almost hit the roof. In our goalsquare Marshall went up for an uncontested grab and Caminiti came across and spoilt it. We bombed it down the throat of Carlton defenders continuously, we lacked any confidence moving the ball, our coaches got schooled by Carlton and had no answer whatsoever for anything that happened during the game.
At the beginning of the year Ross Lyon said it was a year of exploration – in this year of ‘exploration’ we have played the second fewest number of players of any side. How can we be exploring the potential of players when we’re not playing them? How many times can the same player turn it over and cost us goals before the exploration period has reached a conclusion? Why was it that when we lost to Gold Coast the only player omitted come the following Thursday was the debutant who actually had a crack? There is no selection integrity at Moorabbin.
Mason Wood played the game of his life. 36 touches, 5 spoils, 14 marks, 5 tackles. If we had 22 Mason Wood’s life would be good. Wilkie was fantastic down back, and nearly broke Curnow’s streak of forty consecutive games with a goal. But maybe too much attention went into Curnow and we forgot there were 21 other players to watch out for?
Let’s be real, we should have won. We were the far better team in that first half, but Carlton flexed and we ran away to hide. We scraped over the line against the two bottom teams, and when we face someone near us on the ladder, we vanish. Honourable losses are our bread and butter, Melbourne, Collingwood, Port, and now Carlton.
We can’t win games of football only playing for fifty minutes. Our season is slipping away right before our eyes with the hardest ranked fixture in the competition for the last three games. This was incredibly winnable until it wasn’t. We could potentially finish as low as 14th on the ladder if we don’t win another game, and on today’s indication, that might be an unwanted reality we need to face.
3 – Wood
2 – Wilkie
1 – Wood (again)